On February 11, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker appointed Bill McNamara Comptroller of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, effective Friday, February 21.
McNamara’s appointment comes after Comptroller Andrew Maylor announced that he was resigning to accept a position as Vice President and Chief Business Officer of Merrimack College. Before his appointment, McNamara most recently served as Assistant Secretary for the Executive Office for Administration and Finance.
In a press release from the governor’s office, Gov. Baker said, “Bill has a depth of experience in several senior leadership roles in the public and private sector that qualify him for this important new post to oversee the Commonwealth’s fiscal policies and operations…His commitment to transparency and reliable governance will be a great benefit to Massachusetts, and I look forward to working with him to ensure continued fiscal accountability and discipline across state government.”
In Massachusetts, the Comptroller of the Commonwealth is a nonpartisan, governor-appointed position responsible for independent oversight of the state’s finances.
The Comptroller of the Commonwealth serves a term coterminous with the governor.
On February 14, 2020, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) appointed Christina Corieri (R) to serve as the Interim Director of Arizona’s Department of Insurance and Financial Institutions. Corieri filled the vacancy created by Keith Schraad’s (R) resignation on February 12, 2020.
Schraad resigned from the Arizona Department of Insurance and Financial Institutions to take a job in the private sector. Schraad served as the Department of Insurance’s director for two years before his resignation.
The director oversees the Arizona Department of Insurance and Financial Institutions, the agency charged with enforcing state insurance regulations. The department licenses insurance companies to operate within the state and collects various financial filings and reports from them. It makes specific rules based on regulations passed by the state legislature and, with the cooperation of the attorney general, enforces them. The department also interacts with consumers through its education and outreach initiatives.
Before her appointment to lead the Department of Insurance, Corieri served as a senior policy advisor for Gov. Ducey. She has also served as the health and human services policy advisor for Gov. Ducey, chief of staff for Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio, and as a health and policy analyst for the Goldwater Institute.
On February 19, 2020, Mitch Ostlie (R) was appointed by the North Dakota District 12 Republican Executive Committee to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former State Rep. Jim Grueneich (R). Ostlie will serve for the remainder of Grueneich’s term, set to end at the end of the year.
Grueneich resigned from the North Dakota House on February 11, 2020, after he moved outside of the district. Grueneich is running to represent North Dakota House of Representatives District 28—the district that encompasses his new home—in 2020. Grueneich was first elected tot he North Dakota House of Representatives in 2016.
Oslie’s appointment to the North Dakota House filled the Assembly’s only vacancy. Ostlie has said he will run in the district’s regular elections in 2020. The primary for that race is June 9 and the general election will take place Nov. 3.
New Mexico Elections and Terms of Non-Statewide Officeholders Amendment (HJR8) was certified for the November 3 ballot on February 20. The measure would amend section 3 of Article XX of the New Mexico Constitution, which relates to the date elected officials assume office. The amendment would allow the state legislature to pass laws adjusting the election dates of state or county officeholders and adjust office terms according to those date changes. Laws proposing adjustments to election dates of non-statewide officeholders would have to be supported by a legislative finding that such a change would promote consistency for the elections of particular offices or more evenly distribute the number of offices appearing on the ballot.
The amendment, House Joint Resolution 8, was introduced on January 29, 2020. The state House approved HJR8 on February 15, with a vote of 59 to 10, with one member absent. The state Senate approved the amendment on February 20, with a vote of 29 to 13. To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before voters, a simple majority is required in both the New Mexico State Senate and the New Mexico House of Representatives. A simple majority vote of the statewide electorate is required to ratify the amendment.
The amendment was a response to the New Mexico Supreme Court ruling that certain provisions of the Election Code and the Nonpartisan Judicial Retention Act (2019) were unconstitutional. The court argued that the 2019 act, which lengthened the terms of certain non-statewide officeholders by shifting the offices to different election cycles, was unconstitutional. In a report to the legislature, the Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D), wrote, “HJR8 is the Legislature’s attempt to properly extend the terms of these officers to align them on the same ballot on the same election year, which would help the SOS and voters by providing consistency and clarity of the ballot.” The 2019 act primarily affects the terms of district attorneys and judicial officers.
The amendment is the second constitutional amendment referred to the 2020 ballot in New Mexico. The New Mexico Appointed Public Regulation Commission Amendment would change the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) from an elected five-member commission to an appointed three-member commission. Between 1995 and 2018, voters approved 85.5 percent of the constitutional amendments on the ballot in the state.
On March 3, 2020, Californians will decide one statewide ballot measure, Proposition 13. The measure is a $15-billion bond that would provide funds for school and college facilities. Proposition 13 would also make changes to the formula used to distribute state bond funds to schools, the rules governing local bond measures, and school districts’ abilities to assess developer fees.
Of the $15 billion in bonds that would be authorized by Proposition 13, $9 billion would be allocated toward preschool and K-12 schools. The state government would use the bond revenue to provide matching funds to school districts. Proposition 13 would require the state Department of General Services to consider several factors, such as districts’ finances, overcrowding, and earthquake risks, when determining which modernization and construction applications to prioritize.
Proposition 13 would make changes to school districts’ abilities to raise revenue with local bond measures. Districts would be permitted to issue a higher amount of local general obligation bonds. The limit on bond amounts would increase from 1.25 percent to 2.0 percent of assessed property value for elementary and high school districts. In California, school districts must place local general obligation bonds on the ballot, and the bond measure must receive 55 percent of the vote to be approved. Proposition 13 would also prohibit school districts from levying developer fees on multifamily residential developments, such as apartment complexes, within 0.5 miles of a major transit stop. Currently, school districts are permitted to assess one-time fees on developments to provide funds for school construction if the district can show that the new development would bring students into the district.
Proposition 13 would appropriate $6.0 billion to higher institutions of education: $2.0 billion to the California State University, $2.0 billion to the University of California and Hastings College of the Law, and $2.0 billion to community colleges. The state government would provide bond revenue for colleges’ and universities’ projects as part of the annual budget act. Proposition 13 would require the CSU Board of Trustees and the UC Regents to adopt five-year affordable student housing plans for campuses that seek bond funds.
Proposition 13 was placed on the ballot by the California State Legislature. In the state Senate, every Democrat and 6 of 11 (55 percent) Republicans voted for the proposal. In the state House, every Democrat and 17 of 18 (94 percent) Republicans backed referring the measure to the ballot. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed the legislation for Proposition 13 on October 7, 2019.
Californians for Safe Schools and Healthy Learning, also known as Yes on Prop 13, is leading the campaign in support of Proposition 13. Gov. Newsom is a principal officer of the campaign committee. Californians for Safe Schools and Healthy Learning, along with five additional allied committees, raised $9.67 million through February 15, 2020. The largest donations came from the California Teachers Association ($500,000) and the California Charter Schools Association ($400,000). There were no committees organized to fund opposition to the ballot measure. Opponents include the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
Californians last voted on a school facilities bond measure in 2016, which passed with 55 percent of the vote. The bond measure, titled Proposition 51, issued $7 billion for K-12 education facilities and $2 billion for colleges. Between 1998 and 2019, voters approved five bond measures for school facilities—Proposition 1A (1998), Proposition 47 (2002), Proposition 55 (2004), Proposition 1D (2006), and Proposition 51 (2016). The last time that voters rejected a school facilities bond measure was in 1994, in which a K-12 facilities bond and a separate higher education facilities bond were both defeated. The Public Policy Institute of California has released four polls of Proposition 13 since September 2019, with the polls finding that between 48 percent and 53 percent of voters support the bond measure. An additional 6 percent to 16 percent were undecided in the polls.
While Proposition 13 is the only statewide measure to appear on the ballot for March 3, 2020, in California, both citizen-initiated measures and legislative referrals can be placed on the ballot for November 3, 2020, until 131 days before the general election, which is June 26, 2020.
Click here to learn more about California’s Proposition 13, School and College Facilities Bond
The term of one Arkansas Supreme Court justice, Josephine Hart, will expire on December 31, 2020. Justice Hart did not file for re-election. The seat is up for nonpartisan election on March 3, 2020, and a runoff election is scheduled for November 3, 2020. Hart was elected to this position on May 22, 2012.
Morgan Welch and Barbara Womack Webb are running in the general election for Hart’s seat on the court. Webb is a former Circuit Judge for the 22nd Judicial Circuit, appointed by Governor Asa Hutchinson (R).
Welch is the Division 16 judge on the Sixth Circuit in Arkansas. Welch was first elected to the position on May 22, 2012, and was re-elected in May 2018. His second term began on January 1, 2019, and expires on January 1, 2025.
There are seven justices on the Arkansas Supreme Court, each elected to eight-year terms. They compete in nonpartisan primaries (occurring at the same time as the primary elections for other state officials) in which a candidate who receives more than 50 percent of the vote wins the seat outright. If no candidate garners a majority of the vote, the top two candidates compete in a runoff during the general election.
The current justices on the court are:
Karen R. Baker – Elected in 2010
Josephine Hart – Elected in 2012
Courtney Hudson Goodson – Elected in 2010
Dan Kemp – Elected in 2016
Shawn Womack – Elected in 2016
Rhonda Wood – Elected in 2014
Robin Wynne – Elected in 2014
Justices serve staggered terms, so it is unlikely the entire court will be replaced in one election. Nonpartisan elections were implemented in 2000 with the passage of Amendment 3. Vacancies are filled by interim appointments by the governor of Arkansas under Amendment 29, Section 1, of the state constitution. Appointed justices may not run to succeed themselves in the next election. The court consists of a chief justice, a vice chief justice, and five associate justices. The court’s chief justice is selected by voters at large and serves in that capacity for a full eight-year term.
Two special elections are scheduled for February 25 in District 67 and District 99 in the Kentucky House of Representatives. Voters will have until 6 p.m. local time to cast their vote.
Rachel Roberts (D) and Mary Jo Wedding (R) are running for the District 67 seat. The seat became vacant when Dennis Keene (D) resigned on December 16, 2019, to take a job as the commissioner of the Department for Local Government in Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) gubernatorial administration. Keene had represented District 67 since 2005. He was re-elected in 2018 with 60% of the vote.
Bill Redwine (D) and Richard White (R) are facing off in the election for District 99. The seat became vacant when Rocky Adkins (D) resigned on December 10, 2019, to take a job as a senior adviser in Beshear’s gubernatorial administration. Adkins had represented District 99 since 1987. He was unopposed in 2018 and won re-election in 2016 with 66% of the vote.
Republicans have a 61-37 majority with two vacancies in the state House and a 29-9 majority in the state Senate. Kentucky has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Andy Beshear (D) was elected to a first term as governor in 2019.
As of February, 33 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 15 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
Candidates interested in running in the special election for New York State Senate District 50 had until February 20, 2020, to file. The special general election is scheduled for April 28, 2020.
The special election was called after Bob Antonacci (R) left office on December 31, 2019, to join the New York Supreme Court 5th Judicial District. Antonacci assumed office in January 2019.
New York has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. The New York State Senate has 40 Democrats and 22 Republicans, with one vacancy. A majority in the chamber requires 32 seats.
As of February 2020, 33 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 15 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
Eight candidates have applied to fill a vacancy on the Alaska Supreme Court. The vacancy will occur when Justice Craig Stowers retires on June 1, 2020.
Stowers was appointed to the court in 2009 by Governor Sean Parnell (R). Before that, he was a judge on the Alaska Third Judicial District Court from 2004 to 2009, an attorney in private practice from 1987 to 2004, and a law clerk to Alaska Supreme Court Justice Warren Matthews from 1986 to 1987 and to Judge Robert Boochever on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit from 1985 to 1986. He received his undergraduate degree in biology, with honors, from Blackburn College in 1975 and his J.D. from the University of California Davis in 1985.
The five justices of the Alaska Supreme Court are each appointed by the governor from a list of two or more nominees compiled by the Alaska Judicial Council (AJC). New justices serve an initial term of at least three years, after which the justice must stand for retention in an uncontested yes-no election to remain on the bench. Subsequent terms last ten years. The AJC is an independent state commission, established by the Alaska Constitution, that is responsible for screening applicants for judicial vacancies. The AJC has seven members–three lawyers, three nonlawyers, and the chief justice of the state supreme court.
The following eight individuals applied to fill the upcoming vacancy:
Dario Borghesan: A chief assistant attorney general in Anchorage, Alaska. Borghesan graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 2008.
Judge Dani Crosby: A superior court judge in Anchorage. Crosby graduated from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1996.
Kate Demarest: A senior assistant attorney general in Anchorage. She graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2008.
Judge Jennifer Stuart Henderson: A superior court judge in Anchorage. She graduated from Yale Law School in 2001.
Judge Yvonne Lamoureux: A superior court judge in Anchorage. She graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2003.
Margaret Paton Walsh: A chief assistant attorney general in Anchorage. She graduated from Harvard Law School in 2004.
Judge Paul A. Roetman: A superior court judge in Kotzebue, Alaska. He graduated from Regent University School of Law in 1999.
Judge Jonathan Woodman: A superior court judge in Palmer, Alaska. He graduated from the Ohio State University College of Law in 1993.
The Alaska Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort. In addition to Stowers, it includes the following justices:
Daniel Winfree – Appointed by Gov. Sarah Palin (R)
Joel Harold Bolger – Appointed by Gov. Sean Parnell (R)
Peter Jon Maassen – Appointed by Gov. Parnell
Susan Carney – Appointed by Gov. Bill Walker (I)
In 2020, there have been eight supreme court vacancies in seven of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies were caused by retirements. Four vacancies are in states where a Democratic governor appoints the replacement. Three are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. One vacancy is in a state where the state supreme court votes to appoint the replacement.
The filing deadline for non-incumbents to run for elected office in Nebraska is on March 2, 2020. The filing deadline for incumbents was on February 18. In Nebraska, prospective candidates may file for the following offices:
U.S. President (1 seat)
U.S. Senate (1 seat)
U.S. House (3 seats)
Nebraska Public Service Commission (1 seat)
Nebraska State Board of Education (4 seats)
Nebraska State Senate (25 seats)
Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in the following areas:
Elkhorn Public Schools school board (3 seats)
Millard Public Schools school board (3 seats)
Norris School District 160 school board (3 seats)
Omaha Public Schools school board (5 seats)
Ralston Public Schools school board (3 seats)
Westside Community Schools school board (2 seats)
Omaha Public Power District, subdivisions 1 and 2
Lancaster County Commission, districts 2 and 4
In addition, retention elections for incumbent judges are being held for two Nebraska Supreme Court seats and two Nebraska Court of Appeals seats.
The primary election is scheduled for May 12, and the general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020.
Nebraska’s statewide filing deadline is the 14th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on March 6 in Georgia.
Nebraska has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.